From the nation’s fascination with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites passing overhead to fevered speculation about military aircraft being spotted soaring above our rooftops…
It suddenly seems like many of us are gazing towards the heavens.
Three declassified videos newly released by the Pentagon showing US Navy pilots encountering “unidentified aerial phenomena“ – or what the rest of us might call UFOs – has helped stoke further intrigue about what mysterious objects may be traversing our skies.
There’s been a flurry of unexplained sightings reported around the globe – in recent months Belgium has recorded its highest number since the country’s famed “UFO wave” 30 years ago.
UFO in Scotland
Scotland is no stranger to a stellar UFO story either. Last week, an Airdrie supermarket worker took photographs that he claimed showed a strange blueish-green “flying saucer” and a diamond-shaped cluster of “neon beams” while walking home from work.
Here, we reminisce about some of our favourite tales of strange sightings in the sky.
The Falkirk Triangle: Scotland’s UFO capital
The phenomenon known as the “Falkirk Triangle” – which includes Bonnybridge and Camelon – first began to gain attention in 1992 with the area laying claim to around 300 sightings a year.
A family out for a walk on a March evening in 1992 spoke of witnessing a basketball-sized blue light hovering on the back road from Hallglen to Bonnybridge and claimed to hear a sound similar to a “door opening” followed by a “howl” (unsurprisingly they didn’t hang around).
A video of an orange oval light above Falkirk, changing shape to becoming a white disc – the classic “flying saucer” shape – then disappearing suddenly was captured in October 1996. The clip went viral worldwide.
Reported sightings became so prolific that councillor Billy Buchanan, now the Falkirk provost, has lobbied three prime ministers – David Cameron, Tony Blair and John Major – over the years, asking that an investigation be launched (as yet that has been unforthcoming).
While many of the eerie accounts – which range from seeing “big, black and cigar-shaped” objects to “a bright light criss-crossed by stripes of different colours” – are thought to be misidentifications caused by planes, satellites, weather balloons or planets, some simply can’t be explained.
One theory posited by ufologists is that the Falkirk Triangle could contain a window into another dimension, other worlds, the past or the future. We will leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Blairgowrie: Scotland’s earliest UFO?
A bizarre incident in Perthshire was reported in the Annual Register of 1767. It described a pyramid-shaped object over the River Ericht that moved “with great speed and disappeared a little above Blairgowrie“, leaving a trail of destruction that included a partly destroyed house and bridge.
The area surrounding the town is said to be another hotbed of UFO activity, with reports of strange balls of light in the sky and the location of Scotland’s first ever crop circle in 1990.
Blairgowrie couple Sid and Gwen Freeman experienced a series of unsettling encounters during April 1984, including a UFO hovering over their garden and a visit from 12 men dressed in black.
Glasgow: Floating entities and a flying railway carriage
In the west end of Glasgow two curious incidents – 21 years apart – were reported within the same, small geographic area.
The first, in 1955, was at Belhaven Terrace where children playing outside were terrified by several entities floating above the ground dressed in long white clothes.
In nearby Westbourne Gardens, in 1976, a resident said he watched a silver disc-shaped object move towards his flat window and hover 100ft above the ground. Witnesses in two nearby flats corroborated his account of events.
Across the city, a man waiting at a bus stop on Menock Road saw what he claimed looked like a railway carriage-shaped object passing 20ft above his head.
The incident took place in December 1983, with the witness reporting being able to see three windows at the front and a glimpse of swirling yellow smoke inside. Afterwards, he described a sensation of time standing still while watching it.
Prestwick airport: An unexplained radar blip
A series of files released by the Ministry of Defence in 2010 revealed details of what has been dubbed the “Prestwick Airport incident“, where an air traffic controller tracked a fast-moving and unexplained flying object on radar.
The event, recorded in February 1999, sparked an extensive investigation by RAF air defence staff who impounded radar tapes. However, a report concluded that no additional evidence could be found to corroborate what the air traffic controller had spotted.
In August 2003, a member of the public in West Kilbride wrote to the Ministry of Defence to report an a “fluorescent green UFO, saucer shaped” that was “harassing” a plane near Prestwick Airport.
The A70 Abduction: Missing hours
Travelling along the A70 near Harperrig Reservoir in West Lothian on August 17, 1992, Garry Wood and Colin Wright saw a two-tiered, disc-shaped object above the road.
According to their testimony, Wood put his foot down on the accelerator and as they passed beneath the UFO, it appeared to emit a “curtain of white light”. The car began shuddering and they emerged to find themselves driving on the wrong side of the road.
When Wood and Wright arrived in the South Lanarkshire village of Tarbrax, where they were due to drop off a satellite TV system, they discovered that several hours were unaccounted for. Afterwards they underwent hypnosis sessions, with both men recalling an alien abduction scenario and being subjected to a medical-type examination.
Dunfermline: Angler’s unexpected catch
A metallic disc-shaped craft was caught on camera as it hovered above Craigluscar Reservoir near Dunfermline, Fife, on February 19, 1994.
Ian Macpherson, a member of the local angling club and a keen artist, was taking photographs to assist with a painting he was working on. He was first alerted to something out of the ordinary by a humming noise, similar to that from high voltage power lines.
Macpherson describes a sudden uneasy feeling as he turned towards the water to see the object coming towards him. He stood frozen, watching it for more than 15 minutes.
According to his statement: “The craft came close enough for me to see that it was definitely metallic and had several points of diffused light on its underside, inside a darker coloured rim.“
It was only as the disc flew off at high speed that Macpherson felt able to raise his camera and take two photographs. He said: “The craft’s acceleration was phenomenal – by the time I’d wound the film on between the two shots, it was a mere dot in the sky.“
By his own admission, Macpherson had no interest in the subject of UFOs. Subsequent checks with the RAF, airports and the police, confirmed no known air traffic at the time.
West Lothian: A close encounter
Forestry worker Robert Taylor, below, found himself at the heart of one of Scotland’s most famous UFO mysteries when he stumbled across a “a huge flying dome” in a woodland clearing near Dechmont Law in Livingston on November 9, 1979.
As he approached the hovering object, two spheres, each about three feet wide with protruding metal spikes “similar to sea mines“, dropped down and raced towards him.
Taylor claimed to have experienced an acrid smell and the sensation of being dragged. He lost consciousness.
When Taylor awoke, disorientated and with a throbbing headache, the objects were gone. His trousers were ripped in peculiar fashion, and there were grazes on his legs and chin.
Police who accompanied Taylor back to the site found “ladder-shaped marks” in the soil where the craft was said to have hovered, and further marks following the path of the mine-like objects.
While it would later be suggested that he had suffered an epileptic seizure, mini-stroke or hallucinated after ingesting deadly nightshade berries, Taylor, who died in 2007, never sought publicity or financial gain – and always stood by every word of his account.
The case remains unique in British history as the only example of a UFO sighting becoming the subject of a criminal investigation.